Special Collections

Special Collections Oral History Program


Jack Kienast

Campus School, 1951-1958

Interviewer:     Christine Kendall

Date of Interview:     August 29, 2005

Location of Interview:     Interviewee's residence, Bellingham, Wash.

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Authorized Transcript 

This interview was conducted with Jack Kienast at his home in Bellingham, Washington, on August 29, 2005.  The interviewer is Christine Kendall.

CK: I’m interviewing Jack Kienast, who attended Campus School. So, your name when you enrolled at Campus School was?

JK: Jack Kienast.

CK: How did you happen to attend the Campus School?

JK: I’m not sure that I had any choice in it! My father enrolled me in that school and that was the school that he attended, as well as two of my aunts.

CK: What were the years and grades of your attendance?

JK: I started Campus [School] in 1951 in Kindergarten and I attended through the Sixth-grade and that was the highest grade that [Campus School] went to at the time I believe. When my father and aunts went there, it went through junior high school.

CK: How did you get to and from school, and please share any favorite memories of this experience?

JK: I walked to school. We lived down on the corner of Garden and Cedar Street, which was just below the Viking Union building and the Performing Arts Center now, so it was only a couple of blocks to school. We had traffic patrol, so there were traffic guards. I think that was the Sixth-grade or Fifth-grade when you were in the traffic patrol. So there were traffic guards on Garden Street and also on High Street and then also on the street that was between Wilson Library and the Campus School at that time, also at the back door to the Campus School, so it was a good route to walk.

I’d go home for lunch every day. We had an hour for lunch and I’d walk home and have my lunch, then walk back for the second half of the day. I guess I missed all of the fine meals that the cafeteria cranked out there, and I also missed the nap that everybody else got to take at lunchtime whether they wanted to or not.

CK: So did you miss the nap?

JK: I don’t think I missed the nap. I enjoyed my lunch breaks.

CK: Did campus have its own cafeteria?

JK: Campus had their own cafeteria, it was on the ground floor of the building where Kindergarten, First and Second-grades were. When you were in Third-grade through Sixth (which were on the second floor of the building), there was a dumbwaiter and the meals were sent up on trays to the classrooms that were up on the second floor.

CK: And you ate at your desk?

JK: Yes, meals were served in the room and you ate at your desk. Every morning the first order of business in class was to take orders for what people wanted for lunch. There was usually a choice of two entrees.

CK: Who were your favorite or most influential teachers?

JK: Probably Miss Kinsman, Miss Casanova - I’m sure they were probably there when my Dad and my aunts went through that school – and Dr. Brown, who was Sixth-grade.

CK: Do you remember any of your student teachers?

JK: Very few of them. Bill Darkow in Fifth-grade was probably the one that stands out most in my mind. He did a section on airplanes and the dynamics of flight and everybody in the class built a glider and flew them out the second floor windows onto the playground. He showed everybody how to use clay to adjust the weight on the gliders so it had the proper attitude in flight and how to adjust the elevator and vertical stabilizers so it would either turn or fly straight or up or down. That was an interesting section - probably one of the more enjoyable ones - at least for me.

CK: Do you remember other classmates and could you name them for us?

JK: I remember quite a few of my classmates: Mark Erickson, Toby Dittrich, Carolyn Stimpson, Bob Adams, Roger Lee, Jim Ross, Nancy McDonald, Jenna Campbell, Bob Smith, Grant Bowman, Keith Bartell, Gail Harwood… that’s all that is coming to mind at the moment.

CK: What were your favorite subjects or classroom activities?

JK: I liked when we would build projects. I usually could get into whatever the subject of emphasis was for that quarter. I mentioned flight with Bill Darkow in the Fifth-grade. We did a deal on trains, we did one on farms where we learned all the different types of cattle and different breeds and we went on a fieldtrip to a dairy farm. On the train section, we rode the train from Bellingham down to Mount Vernon I believe and got a tour of the engine and the dining car and the baggage car and the train depot. There was always something of interest. We learned how to sew. We learned how to type. We learned how to dance. There was always something.

CK: What were your classes like? Were there a lot of student teachers observing and/or teaching lessons or parts of lessons?

JK: Quite often we would have student teachers observing. There were either chairs that were already set up in the back of the room, usually a couple rows of them, or there was a rack with folding chairs and they could set their chairs up when they came in. They would usually watch either one of the student teachers or your primary grade teacher teach one lesson or another and how you would interact I suppose is what they were observing. At some point they would quietly file out and you’d just go on. It was routine enough that you rarely paid any attention to their coming and going.

CK: Did you notice a great difference between the student teachers and your regular teachers?

JK: Oh yes, a “student teacher” was just that. They were feeling their way along, interacting and working with the class. It didn’t take long to figure out that if you wanted to be up to something, you did it when the student teacher was in charge of the class and your regular teacher was out of the room. You could get away with more than you could when your regular teacher was there.

CK: So did the student teachers sometimes teach without everyone else observing them?

JK: Oh yes. The observers, like I say, they were in and out often. It’s not like they were there all day every day. You might have a class in there observing once a day, sometimes only a couple of times a week.

CK: So some of the time the student teachers were on their own without having all this observation from everybody else?

JK: Oh yes.

CK: What extracurricular activities did you engage in? What did you do at recess, lunchtime, and which did you enjoy the most and what games did you play?

JK: Well, I was in band. I’m trying to think of what year I started band. I remember that one of the professors from the music department came over and probably had some students with him. They gave a demonstration of various instruments. I guess I was taken with the piccolo because of its size and I thought that that was probably a pretty good instrument to take up because you could just take it apart into two pieces and you could actually just stick them in your pocket and not be bothered packing around something bigger. I’m not sure that I excelled at the piccolo or band, but I did carry on through with band after I left the Campus School. Other activities: at lunchtime there was usually football or baseball or soccer or something going on. If the weather was good, we were outside on the play fields; if it wasn’t we were down in one of the gyms. There were two gyms down in the basement – a big one and a small one.

CK: This is in Miller, the Campus School building itself?

JK: Yes. So at lunch there would be some activity going on down there, basketball or dodge ball or whatever. We also had a PE where there would be instruction in some sport.

CK: You’ve also said that you went swimming.

JK: We did. I’m trying to think if that was every other week or once a month that we would go over to Carver Gym and Miss Weythman was our swimming instructor over there and the student teachers would of course be involved in swimming. Until we were in the Fifth-grade, you had to wear the swimsuits that they issued you. So you got women’s swimsuits until you were in the Fifth-grade. Probably they didn’t have men’s suits that were small enough to fit us until that time. Yes, swimming was good fun.

CK: Now, you’ve told me – and this is not on the [questionnaire] – that you used to carry your chairs to assemblies. Were those assemblies in the Campus School building?

JK: The assemblies were. They were in the auditorium and I believe until you were in the Fourth-grade, you carried your chairs to the assembly because the regular, built-in theater type seats that were in the auditorium were for the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth-graders and for the lower grades, those seats were probably deemed too big for us. We all carried our little oak chairs down and there was a prescribed place where each class set up their chairs in rows and at the end of the assembly, you picked them up and carried them back to your classroom.

CK: When you went home for lunch then, you had some time to come back and participate in some of the lunchtime activities, is that correct?

JK: That’s correct. And usually if the weather was good, I’d try and get back to be involved in baseball or soccer or whatever we were playing outdoors. If the weather was not good, I’d usually spend more time at home and then get back just in time for class to start. I didn’t find the indoor gym activities as appealing.

CK: Did you visit the college itself? The college library? Attend assemblies or sporting events or anything else at the College when you were in the Campus School and do you have any special memories of these experiences?

JK: We certainly visited the library on a regular basis. Campus School had one room on the main floor of Wilson Library that was just for Campus School. All the books in that room were geared to our activities and our reading level and interest level. We got to the library probably every week and half I would think. We would check out our books and take them back with us. As far as the rest of the school, we would occasionally go to two classes in Old Main or over at the music building that would be put together for us. It might be a biology class or a science class or we’d go to music performances. Once in a while we would go to some kind of a sporting event if it was happening during the daytime. We did interact with the college. At that time, there wasn’t a student union building but there was I guess a student cafeteria or snack bar that was in the basement of the music building, so we’d frequent that and buy candy and soft drinks after school.

CK: Did you interact with the college students quite a bit, just when you were outside of the classroom?

JK: Oh yes. They were not averse to including you in a game or a sport or a pick-up baseball game or stuff like that if it was going on. There was a reasonable amount of interaction between the students [in] the Campus [School] [and] the college. It was a pretty small school. I’m only guessing, but probably a couple thousand total enrollment in the college at the time.

CK: What was the transition like for you when you began to attend public school?

JK: Well what’s interesting, we didn’t have grade report cards [in] Campus [School] like the public schools did. At the end of each year, your homeroom teacher sent a letter to your parents and in a general broad-brush way, reflected your interests, your activity, your strong points and your weak points, but it wasn’t an A,B,C type grade. I think most of us had some worries of how we were going to measure up when we got to junior high school as far as grades went. As far as interacting with other students from the other schools when we got there, I don’t think that was a big problem. Most of us were fairly well socialized.

CK: Can you share any specific differences between public schools and Campus School that especially affected you?

JK: I think Campus School taught a lot by experiencing things. I mentioned earlier how we would have an area of interest each quarter – the dairy farms, the railroads, the planes, sewing, music. A lot of the knowledge that I picked up at any rate came from those more than through formal presentation of material. We had reading class and we had math and that type of thing, [but] that didn’t seem to be the predominate type of instruction that went on. A lot of our instruction was through doing.

CK: How has your attendance at the Campus School influenced your life?

JK: I think Campus School provided a very broad, well-rounded basis to go into the public schools and actually beyond that gave you the curiosity as to how things work and the ability to figure them out without being formally presented with a methodology. I think we learned that through the way we were taught at that school. I’ve always felt that the Campus School was an excellent school.

CK: Do you have any Campus School memorabilia, including photographs or class publications, crafts, artwork or anything and may we contact you about these items?

JK: I do. I still have some of my artwork from campus. I’m not sure I have a lot of other stuff, but I still do have a folder of some of my artwork in it.

CK: How about any favorite memories of your Campus School days and any comments about areas not covered by the questions above?

JK: Probably since it was a pretty tight-knit class – most of us that started Kindergarten also finished Sixth-grade together. There were a few people whose parents moved out of the area and they would drop from the class and they would be replaced by somebody else, but there were 25 of us in the class and most of us were together for that seven year time. I think there was a lot of camaraderie that was built up there. We would celebrate things together. Everybody’s birthday would be recognized when it came. For Valentine’s Day, we would all make Valentine cards to give to each other. We’d each have a little lunch bag with our name on it and it would be pinned to a wall and you would make a Valentine for each one of your classmates and put it in their bag, as well as for your family and other friends. You’d do the same for Christmas and all of the major holidays. We learned how to sing together, dance together, and swim together.

CK: What about the singing? Did you do that down in the assembly room?

JK: We’d sing in the classrooms but we would perform down in the auditorium as well. We would do plays and sing. One of the things that was always a lot of fun was at Christmas time, before school started, down in the auditorium, they’d put up a big Christmas tree each year and each class would decorate part of the tree. Of course, the Kindergarteners would decorate the lowest limbs and each class would have an entire section of the tree to decorate. Then in the mornings, if you came early to school, you could go down to the auditorium – I’m trying to think of which teacher it was – but one of them would be there and play the piano and play Christmas carols, and we’d sing Christmas carols together for an hour before school would start in the morning. They had a projector for slides and they would project the words to the carols up on the screen if you didn’t already know them so you could read and sing along. You had a chance to interact with the rest of the kids in grades other than yours on a pretty regular basis.

CK: And the dancing instructor? Who would teach the dancing?

JK: Sometimes the student teachers would teach the dancing; sometimes it would be somebody else from the college that would teach it. You learned all of the modern dance steps, the waltz, the foxtrot, square dancing. We learned how to bop and jitterbug. It was all part of the well-rounded education that you got out of the Campus School.

CK: What about the sewing? Did you do that in the home [economics] department or just in your class?

JK: We’d do it in our class, but I believe probably that was somebody from home [economics].  It wasn’t taught by our homeroom teacher. We’d have our needles and thread and our material and we’d learn how to do various stitches and sew on buttons.

CK: Were you given a list to take home of things that you had to bring for all of these various projects or was it all provided for you?

JK: My recollection is almost everything was provided.

CK: And did you actually end up making projects that you took home then, of these sewing projects?

JK:  I don’t recall that we ever made anything that was usable in sewing. We learned how to sew, how to do different stitches, how to mend things. But I don’t recall that we made anything from scratch that was a finished product in the end.

CK: Do you have any other favorite memories or comments about areas? Any other Nip and Tuck memories?

JK: You did mention Nip and Tuck. At lunchtime if you were around, usually one of the teachers, at least in the Kindergarten, First, probably Second-grade would read a story at lunch. Usually it was a ten minute or fifteen minute reading, so a book would last quite a while. Nip and Tuck was one of those books that probably got read several times because it was a favorite. I’ve learned since that it was kind of a classic that most Campus Schoolers seemed to have an awareness of. [If] there was a good story. I’d try and get back from going home for lunch in time to hear the story.

CK: Now did you sometimes stay on campus for lunch?

JK: Very rarely. Infrequently enough that I wasn’t sure exactly if what I was ordering for lunch was what I was going to want to eat by the time lunchtime came!

CK: Any other memories before we wrap this up?

JK: No, I think I pretty well covered it.

CK: Well thank you very much for the interview.

JK: You are welcome.